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Continuous Quality Improvement In Engineering Education: Fact Or Fiction?

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Accreditation and Continuous Quality Improvement -- What the Experts Are Saying!

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.318.1 - 15.318.6



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Paper Authors

author page

Gloria Rogers ABET, Inc.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Continuous Quality Improvement in Engineering Education: Fact or Fiction? Abstract

The concept of “continuous quality improvement (CQI)” and its application to educational programs has been the standard in higher education for almost two decades as government and accreditation agencies are requiring program accountability through evidence of student learning and a systematic process that enable faculty to determine the need for specific curricular improvements. This has resulted in considerable activity in educational programs; however, in most cases, the degree of activity has not directly been proportionate to the development of true CQI processes that inform program faculty of strengths and weaknesses in student learning. A program can self-assess their own progress toward developing CQI processes by evaluating several factors: nature of involvement of program constituents, clearly stated outcomes; specific knowledge/skill performance needed for students to demonstrate achievement of the outcomes; understanding of how curricular processes support the learning, practice, development, and demonstration of the desired performance; valid and reliable assessment procedures; processes that evaluate the strength and weaknesses in student learning and propose strategies for improvement; and, implementation of improvement processes.

This paper examines how CQI processes should be demonstrated in engineering education and explores some of the common mistakes which can lead to considerable effort on the part of faculty with little evidence that the results are useful in understanding the strengths and weakness of student learning. Without valid and sustainable processes, true CQI can only be an elusive quest.

CQI and higher education

Application of the principles of CQI lead an organization to develop internal processes which enable them to systematically analyze the variance between its stated goals and the results of reviewing the evidence of achievement of those goals. Based on the evidence, decisions are made to understand the areas of needed improvements. The role of both internal and external constituents is well understood and inputs from both are sought according to the roles they play. Members of the organization are encouraged to take risks in order to better understand more about the organization.1

When CQI is applied to education, student learning is the focus, and program and classroom effectiveness the concern. Assessment activities are the means by which faculty examine the evidence about what is effective and what needs to be improved. The institution and/or program is committed to quality improvement and actively seeks to improve the quality of the intended learning outcomes. The goal is to enhance program and classroom effectiveness in order to improve student learning2

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment recently conducted a national survey of 2800 campuses to better understand what campuses were doing related to outcomes assessment and how the data collected in the process were used. There were over 1500 colleges who

Rogers, G. (2010, June), Continuous Quality Improvement In Engineering Education: Fact Or Fiction? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16367

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